You know those moments when you are feeling so low you canít imagine ever feeling good again and then something unexpected happens and a whole new world opens up for you? Well that happened to me in 1988 and the unexpected was a boy from Canada.
I was living in New York with my first big love, our relationship was ending in a bad way and it was time for me to start thinking about returning home to California. When you are 18 and that happens, it feels like the end of the world.
Right around this time, my Mom forwarded me a package from someone in Canada whom I did not know. Inside the package was a letter and a little book that I had made called a Friend Book or F.B. An F.B. is made up of colorful pieces of paper, folded and stapled together to resemble a mini-book. You decorate the cover with some kind of weird theme and put your address on the last page. You then mail it to a friend who decorates the next page with his or her own form of self expression (draw a picture, get creative with glue, etc). Each person puts their address on their page and then mails it to someone else. By the time it gets back to you months later, it should be filled with artwork & addresses from people from all over the place. This is one of those things you did in the 80ís if you were big into pen pals. Somehow this boy from Canada was the last person to decorate the last page, so he was given the task of mailing it back to me. He included a letter telling me about himself and suddenly there was a light on in the world again. I will call him SBT.
We began writing each other and became very close. Soon we were sending each other letters every day, sometimes several in one day. We would send each other books and little gifts and logged about a million hours talking on the telephone, which was quite expensive at the time. I soon moved back to CA and started living with my sister and her family in San Francisco. Time passed and we became closer with every word we shared.
SBT was younger than me and still in high school, but he was ridiculously intelligent and a remarkable person. Our ages and huge lack of funds presented a big issue of actually meeting each other, but we continued to write and talk for months leading into years. We had a deep loving relationship through a strict exchanging of words.
As time passed, we wrote less and less to each other, but still remained close as we lived our separate lives. We had other relationships and experiences. It never seemed to work out for us to meet in person, but I considered him a very important person in my life even if I did not hear from him for months at a time.
After being out of touch for awhile, I called him late one night on his birthday the summer í98, almost exactly 10 years after I received his first letter. We could not talk for long, because he was with his girlfriend. I was sincerely happy for him as I hung up the phone. That was the last time we spoke.
We both moved a lot in the years that followed and we somehow lost touch. I tried calling some old numbers I had for him, but they were disconnected, letters were returned.
Life moved on; I met and fell in love with Sasha and we are creating a good life with each other here in Seattle.
I thought about SBT a lot over the years and always wondered what happened to him, wondered what he was up to, if he was happy and fulfilled.
In the last few years, I tried finding him via the internet. Trouble was he had a very common name; in fact his last name is also a very common first name, so internet searches would bring up about a trillion possibilities. Looking up a phone number was equally difficult. I knew what Canadian Province he was probably in, but could not be sure he had not moved to another town. I knew that he went to University and probably had a degree in his major of choice: Information Studies; at one time he was on his way to becoming a professionally accredited librarian. I considered calling every Library in Canada, but this was not a practical idea.
A few months ago a song came on the radio that reminded me of him and I got really sad; would I never hear from my friend again?
Then I had this dream about him: Sasha & I were at a fair and we bumped in to SBT and who I guessed was his wife. SBT was very standoffish and left before I could get his email address, which made me feel miserable and anxious. It was very vivid. I woke up depressed that it was such a lousy dream, but also with the strangest feeling that if I looked again, I would find him.
I did one last internet search, and the very first thing that came up on google, was some kind of blog. It was the weirdest blog I had ever seen, practically written in a different language; a computer language. It was all about databases and SQL and HTM and god knows what. I was just about to continue my search, when I found a more personal entry that struck a chord and reminded me of my friend.
I left a comment in the comment section asking if this person was SBT from Canada and then I sat back and waited.
The next morning when I went to check the traffic report before I left for my commute, I could not help but check my email. There was a message with the subject line: You have successfully tracked me down.
Un Fucking Believable.
What are the odds?
I was an elated wreck as I drove to work.
He said he was delighted to hear from me and did not at all feel like a hunted animal.
To my overwhelming pleasure, I happened to catch him in the most exciting and happiest time of his life. He is married to his girlfriend of the last 9 years, is in the process of an exciting job change as well as a change of residence and dream home purchase and best of all, he is just a few months away from the birth of his first child.
Thanks be to the universes.